Construction underway for new WRMC emergency room

CHEROKEE VILLAGE, AR (KAIT) - Construction is underway to transform the White River Medical Center clinic in Cherokee Village into an emergency room.

The new 24/7 facility is the first satellite emergency room in the state. It will house brand new trauma and CT scan rooms, and have ambulance access.

"We have the most health care being delivered in Sharp County ever in its history," facility director James Street said.

Street said the facility, built in 2006, was actually designed to be an emergency room. Now eight years later, the urgent care clinic has built up enough patient volume to make the transition.

"We'll provide 24/7 physician coverage, all of the diagnostics, laboratory and imaging that's important for the doctors to be able to do their job most efficiently," Street said. "It's going to provide a whole new level of service."

Street said the urgent care clinic could not accept ambulances because of state regulations. However, paramedics can come to the new ER because it offers a higher level of care.

"Now the local ambulance service will save a lot of miles and fuel, being able to deliver the patients earlier," Street said. "Plus, the patients will be able to get service a lot faster."

Before the renovation, the closest health care facility ambulances could go to was Fulton County Hospital, about 30 minutes away.

Street said patients in serious to critical condition will still need to go to larger care facilities, like Fulton County Hospital.

"People who need heart stints, or something like that, will have to go to a higher level facility, but we would be able to stabilize that patient here and be able to take care of their medical needs up to that level, then transport them," Street said.

The new ER will also be a part of the Arkansas Saves program, the statewide network that provides video consultation for stroke treatment.

"That's going to be an important part of this facility," Street said. "It'll be expedited care on the stroke victims that the ambulances recognize, radio ahead, and we'll have a UAMS specialist on standby. They'll be able to guide our staff up here to be able to take care of those patients."

The renovation also brings economic benefits to Sharp County. Street said it will create 20 new jobs and increase staff payroll by $2 million annually.

The emergency room is set to open later this spring.

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